Hoffenheim vs. Schalke Preview and Pick

Hoffenheim vs. Schalke 2:30 PM ET Friday August 21, 2009
By Jason Green at Predictem.com

In a big early season Bundesliga game on Friday night, Hoffenheim hosts Schalke at Rhein-Neckar Arena Sinsheim. Last season Hoffenheim was the surprise of the Bundesliga, while Schalke was a disappointment. This year the tables have turned in the early part of the season, as Schalke is in first place with 2 wins in their first 2 matches while Hoffenheim is near the bottom of the table, as they have lost 1 and drawn 1 in their first 2 matches.

Hoffenheim opened the season well, drawing with Bayen in Munich, but then lost at home against Bayer Leverkusen. Unlike last season Hoffenheim will not surprise anyone this time around in the Bundesliga after finishing 7th last season.

Schalke has looked solid so far in the Bundesliga campaign, as they have won both of their matches, have scored 5 goals, and only given up 1 goal. Shalke has many new young players and they are playing great so far. Hoffenheim was solid last season at home and they will have to play great on Friday night against a Schalke team that is full of confidence.

Hoffenheim’s offense has to wake up, as even though their defense has been solid only allowing 2 goals in 2 games they have only scored one goal so far this season.

This game may be more important to Hoffenheim, as even though the season is still young they cannot afford to lose, or even draw, home games and remain at the bottom of the league table.

In terms of the odds for this match they are pretty even, as the Hoffenhiem team is the slight home favorite posted at 2.50 while Schalke is posted at 2.75 with a draw at 3.20.

Hoffenheim Recent Form:

8/15/2009 Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Hoffenheim (Bundesliga)
8/8/2009 Hoffenheim 1-1 Bayern Munich (Bundesliga)
8/2/2009 Oberneuland 0-2 Hoffenheim (DFB Pokal)
7/26/2009 Hoffenheim 1-2 Getafe (Friendly)
7/17/2009 Hoffenheim 1-0 Panathinaikos (Friendly)

Schalke Recent Form:

8/16/2009 Schalke 3-0 Bochum (Bundesliga)
8/8/2009 Nurnberg 1-2 Schalke (Bundesliga)
8/1/2009 Germania Dattenfeld 0-4 (DFB Pokal)
7/29/2009 Saarbrucken 0-2 Schalke (Friendly)
8/25/2009 Union Berlin 2-1 Schalke (Friendly)

Hoffenheim will be without the services of Luiz Gustavo and Matthias Jaissle, as they are both out due to injuries. However, things may be looking up for the host club, as they will get their top striker Vedad Ibisevic back from injury and they recently signed solid defender Josip Simunic.

Schalke comes into this match relatively match fit. The starting roster should be the same as last week when they beat Bochum 3-0 at home.

Hoffenheim will have to score on a Schalke defense that has looked great anchored by Carlos Zambrano and veteran Marcelo Bordon.

Vedad Ibisevic is back from an injury and the home side really needs his offense on Friday night against Schalke. Last season Ibisevic netted 18 goals in 17 games, but he injured his knee and missed the 2nd half of the Bundesliga season. That was one of the main reasons Hoffenhiem slipped from leading the league to an eventual 7th place finish.

The Hoffenheim defense will have to worry about the volatile Shcalke striker Kevin Kuranyi. Even though Kuranyi has a troubled relationship with Schalke fans he tends to play better on the road and he already has 2 goals this season.

Hoffenheim will have to control the midfield to keep the dynamic offense of Schalke from constantly attacking.

Schalke has shown their defense is one of the best in the Bundesliga so far and it will be hard for Hoffenhiem to find the back of the net.

Jason’s Pick: Even though the last match up of these two ended in a 1-1 draw it seems as if though both of these clubs are heading in different directions.

Schalke has looked solid and I think they have too much offense and a much better defense than the home club. With that being said I think Schalke will win this game by a score of 2-1 or 3-1, as Hoffenheim will continue to struggle in the beginning of the Bundesliga season.